With today marking the 15th anniversary of Steven Spielberg's provocative, Academy Award-nominated sci-fi drama, A.I. Artificial Intelligence — the story about loving an advanced cybernetic human and then abandoning it in the woods — we thought it apt to not only cast our minds back over this game-changing masterpiece but to also acknowledge the visionary who, with one short story, kick-started the concept almost 50 years ago.
The Short Story Behind A.I. Artificial Intelligence — 'Super-Toys Last All Summer Long'
Penned by British science fiction author Brian Aldiss, the inspiration for A.I. Artificial Intelligence was birthed in 1968 with a short story titled "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long," and this is the synopsis:
Taking place in a dystopian future, the characters within "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" find themselves part of an overcrowded population divided between one quarter living comfortably with food on their tables, while the remaining 75 percent must request permission to bear children.
Following the relationship that protagonist Monica Swinton has with her husband Henry, young son David, and her robot companion Teddy — her trusted confidant who helps her comprehend why she has never felt a true connection with her child — the plot jumps between discussions of artificial lifeforms, bio-electronic beings and an idea that new A.I. will solve humanity's problems of isolation and loneliness.
While David attempts to discover whether his mother actually loves him, he writes letters that amble between themes of love and jealous contempt (for Teddy). To her horror, Monica discovers the prose shortly before it's revealed that their family has been chosen by the Ministry of Population to birth a child and, later, that David is an A.I. child himself (as a replacement for a real child), and must be sent back to the factory immediately.
The curtains close as David recalls the love and warmth of his mother, totally clueless about the future lying before him.
Artificial Intelligence — From Kubrick To Spielberg
The short story of "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" was originally picked up by producer-director Stanley Kubrick in the late '70s but floundered in production mostly due to Kubrick's acknowledgment that CGI was not advanced enough to deliver a realistic portrayal of an A.I. character. The project was handed over to Steven Spielberg in 1995 — et voilà, a highly praised cinematic classic was born.
You can read Brian Aldiss' "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" in its entirety here.
Would you rather a world populated by robots?
Source: "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long"